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Örjan Martinsson

Norwegian Army Uniforms 1670-1730

The Norwegian army trace its lineage from 1628 when five national regiments were raised by conscription. The number of regiments varied during the 17th century but at the start of the Great Northern War there were six national regiments recruited from the following stiftamt (counties):

Akershus stiftamt
(I am not sure of the borders between the regimental districts)

= Akershusiske Regiment
= Oplandske Regiment
= Smaalenske Regiment

Agdesidens stiftamt

= Vesterlenke Regiment

Bergenhus stiftamt

= Bergenhusiske Regiment

Trondheims stiftamt

= Trondhjemske Regiment
= Outside the regimental districts (Nordlands amt
and further north Vardöhus amt)

Apart from the national regiments there were also one or two enlisted regiments. The cavalry which from 1701 was exclusively made up of dragoons was also mainly national (i.e. conscripted), but each regiment had a certain amount of enlisted companies.

During the 17th century there were much variation of uniform colours, but in the beginning of the 18th century the Norwegian army had just like the Danes adopted mainly light grey coats with facings and lining in a distinctive regimental colour. The cut on the uniforms were also the same as for the Danish army. Although it took longer for changes to be adopted in Norway since the national regiments only received new coats every tenth year during peace time. The double-breasted coat, which was characteristic for the 18th century Danish army, began possibly to be introduced only from 1706.

Red coats also occurred and became more common in the 1710s. On 24 December 1717 it was decided that all regimen should have red coats. It was also at the same time decided that all national regiments were to be split in two. The only exception was Trondhjemske which had been split already in 1710 and from which a third regiment was to be created. The threat of a Swedish invasion postponed however the implementation of the reorganisation and new uniforms until the end of 1718, in September for Akershusiske, Smaalenske and Oplandske regiments, in November for Vesterlenske Regiment and in December for Bergenhusiske Regiment. The third Trondhjemske regiment was not created until January 1719.

The information about Norwegian uniforms presented below comes mainly from articles written by Erik C. Aagaard, with complementary information from Lars-Eric Höglund and Daniel Schorr. However, the information from these persons is to a certain extent contradictory, specifically on the new uniforms from 1717/18. According to Aagaard the partitioned regiments were issued identical uniforms and it was not until the 1720s that the new regiments got distinctive uniforms. Höglund on the other hand mentions distinctive regimental cuff colours in 1718 and collar colours in 1720. These colours not only contradict Aagaard but also themselves since the cuffs and collars are given different colours by Höglund. I suspect that Höglund's information comes from two different sources and that the colour on the collars in 1720 is taken from the 19th century historian Otto Vaupell (who is notoriously unreliable). Höglund's information about cuffs in 1718 is not necessarily in conflict with Aagaard if you consider that the latter refer to what was written in the regulation from 1717 and that the uniforms actually issued in 1718 may well have had a different appearance. Daniel Schorr has also notes about red vests and stockings for some regiments in 1717/18 even though these should have been in the regimental colour according to Aagaard's article about the infantry. Aagaard has however in an e-mail to me acknowledged that Schorr is correct and that he had misread the source when he wrote his article.

The Enlisted Regiment
(Det geworbene regiment)

Two enlisted regiments were raised 1687 and 1688, commanded first by Krag and Boynenbourg and later by Hausmann and Gyldenløwe. These regiments were merged in 1701 under the command of Hausmann. He was succeeded in 1704 by Cicignon who stayed as the regimental commander for the remainder of the Great Northern War.

1687 When Krag's Regiment was raised it first issued coats with various colours as well as red karpuses with yellow facings and yellow lining. The year after cloth and baize was delivered for manufacture of light grey coats with facings and lining in red as well as blue neckerchiefs.
1702 The merged regiment received cassocks, coats and breeches of red cloth with green lining and brass buttons. This uniform had been intended for Gyldenløwe's Regiment and the colours were reported to have been somewhat lighter than what had been ordered.
1711/12 A new uniform replaced one that had been issued 24 April 1710. The cassock (overcoat) was now replaced with surtout which after 1½ years was supposed to be remade into a camisole (vest with sleeves) and replaced with a new surtout.
1717 A regulation states that the coat, breeches and stockings should be red with yellow buttons and green facings and lining.

Both regiments were transferred to Holstein in 1700 but arrived after the war had ended. In 1712 the now merged regiment was again transferred to Jutland and participated in the siege of Tönningen as well as the Pomeranian campaigns 1715-16 (including the battle of Stresow). It returned home to participate in the Norwegian campaigns 1716 and 1718 as well as in the offensive into Bohuslän 1719.

A complementary note from Höglund says that the Regiment had a red coat with green collar in 1714.

Akershusiske Regiment

1670 Light grey coat with green trimming.
1676 A less reliable source notes: blue coat with yellow facings, green trimming and white buttons As well as dark blue breeches, grey stockings, ankle shoe and leather cap with red top.
1683 Grey coat
1685 Blue coat with red (or possibly white) lining.
1688 Light grey coat with facings and lining in aurora.
1694 Blue coat with red lining.
1695 Uniform changed to grey coat with blue lining
1697 A uniform regulation decrees grey coats with green lining breeches, stockings and caps as well as white buttons.
1702 White (light grey) coat with green lining, breeches and stockings. White (light grey) karpus with green facings, the front edged with red-green-white lace and decorated with
Christian V's cypher. The grenadiers also had a fringe of bear fur along the striped lace and Norway's coat of arms instead of Christian V's cypher.
1713
White (light grey) coat with facings, lining, breeches, stockings in green.
1717/18 A uniform regulation decrees that the coats should be red with celadon coloured (sea green) facings, lining, breeches and stockings as well as white buttons and buttonholes. The uniform was issued in September 1718.

Sometime during the following ten year period 2nd (West) Akershusiske Regiment got paille (straw yellow) as its regimental colour. Both regiments were also issued red stockings and breeches. Schorr writes  however that the regiments possibly received red breeches and stockings already in 1718 and that the buttonholes may have been red

Höglund deviates from both Aagaard and Schorr by having separate uniforms for the regiment already in 1718 and 1720 (which also do not match each other or the later uniforms mentioned by Aagaards). According to Höglund 1st Akershusiske had celadon green cuffs with black lace in 1718 and green collar in 1720. 2nd (East) Akershusiske had light green cuffs with yellow lace 1718 and a white collar with red edge in 1720. He also describes celadon as an olive green shade.

Höglund also has a complementary note that new uniforms were issued 1710. And Schorr refers to a source that states that the six companies in Trondheim still had the old light grey coats with green facings during the 1718 campaign.

Smaalenske Regiment

1670 Light grey coat with blue lining.
1680 Red coat with blue facings and yellow lining.
1685 Blue coat with yellow lining or grey coat with blue lining.
1688 and 1694 Light grey coat with blue lining.
1695 Uniform changed to light grey coat with green lining
1697 A uniform regulation decrees grey coats with blue lining, breeches, stockings and caps as well as white buttons.
1713 White (light grey) coat with facings, lining, breeches and stockings in blue.
1717/18 A uniform regulation decrees that the coats should be red with dark blue facings, lining, breeches and stockings. The uniform was issued in September 1718.

Sometime during the following ten year period 2nd (West) Smaalenske Regiment got dark green as its regimental colour. Both regiments were also issued red stockings and breeches. Furthermore they were provided with white buttons and buttonholes.

 

Höglund who also mention that new uniforms were issued 1710 have the same conflicting information on Smaalenske as for Akershusiske. According to him 1st (East) Smaalenske Regiment had a yellow edge on their blue cuffs 1718 and a brown collar 1720. 2nd (West) Smaalenske Regiment's uniform should have had yellow cuffs with a black edge 1718 and a green collar 1720.

In a plate painted by Worgewitz in 1728 West Smaalenske Regiment is depicted with a white edge along the dark green cuffs and the collar. There is however no white edges in another plate from 1730 painted by Zimmer. Since Zimmer's plates correspond better with other sources it is likely that the regiment did not have white edges.

Oplandske Regiment

1667 "The yellow regiment"
1675 Light grey coat with red collar.
1676 A less reliable source notes: grey coat with red facings, leather collar, yellow trimming and yellow buttons as well as leather breaches with buttons in the outer seams and a leather cap with dark blue top.
1685 Red coat with white lining.
1688 Light grey coat with facings and lining in red.
1695 Grey coat with red lining
1697 A uniform regulation decrees grey coats with red lining, breeches, stockings and caps as well as white buttons.
1702 White (light grey) coat with lining, breeches and stockings in red.
1713 Red coats with red lining and a second colour on the facings and buttonholes (Grey-blue).
1717/18 A uniform regulation decrees that the coats should be red with steel grey facings, lining, breeches and stockings as well as white buttons and buttonholes. The uniform was issued in September 1718.

 

 

Sometime during the following ten year period 2nd (West) Oplandske Regiment got light blue as its regimental colour. 1st (East) Oplandske kept the steel grey (grey-blue) colour on the facings but the colour on the buttonholes was changed to blue. Both regiments also received red stockings and breeches.

According to Höglund new uniforms were issued 1710. Schorr mentions that they in 1713 had red coats with red lining as well as steel grey facings and buttonholes, and that they again in 1715 received new red uniform with steel grey facings. Schorr also refers to a source which states that six companies located in Trondheim during the 1718 campaign still wore the old light grey coats with red facings.

Höglund again deviates from Aagaard and Schorr in his description of the Oplandske regiments' cuffs and collars. According to him East Oplandske had a light green edge on their steel grey cuffs in 1718 and a light grey collar in 1720. The only uniform detail he mentions for West Oplandske is a red coat with light blue collar in 1720.

Vesterlenske Regiment

1685 Green coat with white lining.
1687 Steel green coat with facings and lining in red. Also reported to have had green coat with yellow buttons and white stockings
1694 Green coat with white lining.
1695 Uniform changed to grey coat with yellow lining
1697 a uniform regulation decrees grey coats with yellow lining, breeches, stockings and caps as well as white buttons.
1700. Grey-white coat and karpus with yellow lining and yellow breeches.
1702 It was decided that the regiment should receive brass buttons instead of buttons of cloth next time new uniforms were issued.
1710 New uniforms were issued at the start of the year.
1712-13 New uniforms which included yellow breeches were issued.
1713 White (light grey) uniform with facings, lining, breeches and stockings in yellow.
1717/18 A uniform regulation decrees that the coats should be red with facings, lining, breeches and stockings in feuille morte (yellow-brown) as well as white buttons and buttonholes. The uniform was issued in November 1718.

 

Sometime during the following ten year period the uniforms were changed so that the 1st (East) Vesterlenske Regiment got brown-yellow (red-yellow/aurora) as its regimental colour and the 2nd (West) Vesterlenske got light yellow (lemon). Both regiments also received red stockings and breeches, possibly with blue buttonholes.

The yellow shade that was Vesterlenske's regimental colour 1697-1717 may have been feuille morte because Höglund states that the uniforms issued in 1710 were light grey coats with "fire yellow" (flame coloured). The regiment was at the same time issued new flintlock muskets without bayonets.

Höglund also states in contrast to Schorr and Aagaard that the eastern regiment had yellow cuffs with a light green edge in 1718 and a brown collar in 1720. The western regiment had 1720 a yellow collar.

Bergenhusiske Regiment

1676 Dark grey coat and black breeches.
1677 Dark grey coat with red lining and red seams. Also received dark grey coats with yellow facings and edges.
1678 Red coat with yellow lining and yellow edges.
1679 Dark grey and light grey coats of cloth. NCOs and drummers received red cloth coats.
1680 Colonel's company (Indre Sogn) received blue coats.
1685 Red coats with white lining (or white coats with red lining).
1687 Red coat with facings and lining in blue. Is also reported to have had light grey coats with red lining.
1709 White (light grey) coats with lining and facings in red and brass buttons.
1710 The regiment complained about having red coats which were 23 years old.
1711 New uniforms were commissioned consisting of red coats, vests, breeches and stockings with facings and lining in white as well as brass buttons. However, this uniform was probably not issued.
1713 A new red uniform with white smallclothes. The old grey-white coats were to be re-sewn to camisoles (waistcoats). As headgear they would continue to wear karpuses instead of hats.
1715 Red coats, vests, breeches and stockings. Lining and facings were white.
1717/18 A uniform regulation decrees that the coat should be red with white facings, lining, buttons and buttonholes. Breeches and stockings were to remain red. The uniform was issued in December 1718.

Sometime during the following ten year period 1st (North) Bergenhusiske Regiment received a red stripe on their cuffs. The button colour was possibly changed to yellow and the buttonholes to blue.

Höglund also mentions that Bergenhusiske Regiment was issued new uniforms in 1710 and had en white collar 1715. When the regiment was partitioned in 1718 the first regiment received white cuffs with a blue edge. Schorr and Aagaard note however that they had the same uniforms (white cuffs without a blue edge).

Trondhjemske Regiment
(raised 1628, split into Old and New Trondhjemske 1657-1680 and in North and South Trondhjemske 1710-1718)

1677 Red coat with yellow lining.
1678 New Trondhjemske: Dark grey coat with facings, lining and edges in red.
1679 New Trondhjemske: Two companies received red coats with lining and edges in yellow.
Old Trondhjemske: Red coat and karpus. NCOs had light and dark grey coats. Drummers had dark grey coats and red karpuses.
1685 Red coat with blue lining.
1687 Red coat with yellow facings and breeches as well as a black hat (issued 1688-90).
1701 A decision is made that the coat should be blue with red lining, but in 1708 the regiment still had red coats with facings and lining in yellow and brass buttons.
1703 The regiment's reserve companies are mentioned to have grey coats with red facings and buttons as well as karpuses with red lining.
1713 Both Trondheim regiments had red with yellow uniforms.
1715 1st Regiment was supposed to have red coats with facings and lining in blue but that uniform was not delivered. 2nd Regiment was to have red coats with facings and lining in yellow as well as brass buttons.
1716 1st Regiment had red coats with facings and lining in yellow as well as red breeches and stockings. Hats as well as red breeches and stockings were issued to 2nd Trondhjemske Regiment which otherwise had the same uniform as in the previous year.
1717 1st Trondhjemske Regiment was to have red coats and yellow facings, lining, breeches and stockings. The privates should have karpuses while the NCOs and drummers should have hats. 2nd Trondhjemske should have red coats with facings and lining in light blue, brass buttons as well as red breeches and stockings. The third regiment which was created January 1719 should according to the regulation have red coats with green facings, lining, breeches and stockings.

 

Aagaard states that the regimental colours a decade later were dark yellow for 1st Regiment, blue (light blue) for 2nd Regiment and light green for 3rd Regiment. The latter had white buttons while the other two regiments had yellow buttons. The buttonholes for all regiments were either red or blue. Breeches and stockings were then red for all regiments.

Höglund has conflicting information for two Trondheim regiments. According to him 1st Trondhjemske had light green facings with yellow edge in 1718 and chamois coloured collar in 1720. 3rd Trondhjemske had violet facings with yellow and black lace in 1718. He also mentions that Trondhjemske Regiment received new uniforms 1710 which included 600 pairs of uncoloured stockings.

Ski Corps
(Skiløpercorpsen)

Created 1711 and had until 1717/18 blue coats with white lining. The regulation from 1717 decrees red coat with dark blue lining and facings, blue breeches and blue stockings. The choice to have dark blue lining on the red coat was intended to help the skiers during the reconnaissance missions. By turning the coats inside out they could appear to be Swedes. The coat was for that purpose also made shorter and wider.

1st Søndenfjeldske Dragoon Regiment

Raised as cavalry 1661 and reformed to dragoons 1701. Got its name in 1729, before then named after its regimental commanders.

J. M. Sehested
U. K. Kruse
 1696
 1710

1677 Dark grey coats and breeches were issued as well as dragoon karpuses.
1687 Light grey coats with red lining and trimming.
1701 The regiment would continue to wear light grey coats with red lining after the reorganisation to dragoons. The four enlisted companies, which in peacetime were dismounted, should have red buttons and lace.
1703 New uniforms issued.
Sometime during the period 1704-1710 the officers are noted to have had steel grey cloaks and coats with crimson lining. The coat had buttonholes of silk and camel hair as well as gilded buttons. The vest was of red cloth with yellow thread along the buttonholes and gilded buttons. Breeches of red cloth and fine knitted stockings (white 1710). Hat with thin lace (after 1710 described as yellow). NCOs had mainly the same uniform. Drummers and privates had somewhat shorter coats as well as vest, breeches and gloves of leather.
1710-1714 Same uniform as above.
Autumn 1709 Cuirasses were issued.
1712 It was decided that the saddle cloth and pistol covers should be red with decorations in the regimental colour (the King's cypher).
1714 A decision was taken 16 March to change to red coats. This was done not later than in 1717 and the colour on the lining and facings was then white.
1717 According to a regulation the dragoons should probably have breeches and stockings in the regimental colour and a leather vest.
Spring 1718 New uniforms which had been ordered the year before were issued.
1730 A plate painted by Zimmer shows the regiment with a red coat with lining, facings, collar and shoulder cords in white.

In contrast to Aagaard, Höglund states that the regiment already in 1709 had red coats with facings and lining in white. He also mentions that the red coat in 1720 had a white collar. And informs that in 1718 the horses were mainly of small stature and the colours were "mostly chestnut, yellow, grey, very rarely brown or black".

2nd Søndenfjeldske Dragoon Regiment

Got its name 1729, before then named after its regimental commanders.

F. W Fölckersamb
J. Ötken
 1698
 1711

1677 Light grey coat with light blue trimming.
1683 The two national Søndenfjeldske reserve received blue cloth coats with pewter buttons and red cloth karpuses with lining and facings of yellow baize. The four enlisted companies received cloth and baize to manufacture red coats with yellow lining and pewter buttons. The enlisted dragoons karpuses probably came in two variants, both blue but with facings and lining in red or yellow (alternatively they had the same karpus but with lining and facings in different colours).
1685 Blue coat with white lining.
1698 Granted money to new uniforms. The coat should be of blue cloth with white lining and 18 brass buttons. Furthermore it should have four dozen camel hair lace (to the buttonholes?) and one on the back. The overcoat was to be of white cloth with blue lining and have two dozen brass buttons. The hat should have white camel hair lace.
1701 The national companies had blue coats with lining and trimming in white, and the enlisted companies had blue coats with lining and trimming in green.
1703 New uniforms issued.
Autumn 1709 Cuirasses were issued.
1710 Hats with lace and cockades are introduced.
1712 The cuirasses are returned to the closest fortress. 13 February it was decided that the saddle cloths and pistol covers were to be red with decorations in the regimental colour, the saddle cloths should have the King's cypher. 700 new cloaks (re-sewn cassocks) were issued this year together with 15 drums and 300 saddle cloths.
1714 A decision was taken 16 March to change to red coats with lining and facings in light blue. This was done not later than in 1717 (facings and lining were then just described as blue).
1717 According to a regulation the dragoons should probably have breeches and stockings in the regimental colour and a leather vest.
Spring 1718 New uniforms which had been ordered the year before were issued.
1730 A plate painted by Zimmer shows the regiment with a red coat with lining, facings and collar in dark blue and shoulder cords in white.

Here is Höglund in agreement with Aagaard by stating that the coats were blue with facings and lining in white 1709. He also mentions that the hats had silver lace 1718 and that the horse quality was just as bad as in the previous regiment.

Nordenfjeldske Dragoon Regiment

Dragoon corps until 1719.

P. Halcke
N. K. Reichwein
P. Motzfeldt
 1702
 1717
 1718

1701 When the corps was created from the northern companies of the two preceding regiments it retained their old uniforms in the beginning. 200 uniforms consisting of light grey cloth and blue baize were however ordered from a supplier in Bergen.
1702 It is stated that the corps was to have light grey coats with green trimming.
1703 New uniforms were issued.
1710 Cuirasses were issued.
1712 It was decided (13 February) that saddle cloths and pistol covers were to be red with decorations in the regimental colour, the saddle cloths should have the King's cypher. 15 drums were also issued this year
1714 A decision was taken 16 March to change to red coats, which was done not later than 1717. The green regimental colour was retained.
1716 According to the accounts the corps had hats with embellishments, coats of coarse wool with facings and collar of green baize as well as leather breaches and "half boots".
1717 According to a regulation the dragoons should probably have breeches and stockings in the regimental colour and a leather vest.
1719 A disbanded enlisted company returns their uniforms which consisted of red coats with green lining and brass buttons and red cloaks.
1730 A plate painted by Zimmer depicts the regiment with a red coat with lining, facings and  collar in dark green as well as cords in green and white on the right shoulder.

The photo to the right is taken from Aagaard's article about the Norwegian cavalry and it shows a cavalry cloak kept in the armoury in. It is very possible that it belongs to those who in 1719 were returned by Nordenfjeldske Regiment. Note that the falling collar completely cover the shoulders.

Aagard also have a report from 1733 showing what equipment one of the companies had (the years in parenthesis notes when they were issued):

NCOs: hat with silver lace (1732), black neckcloth (1733), gloves (1729), cloak with brass hooks (1716), red coat with facings of blue plush as well as silver buttons and buttonholes (1727), leather breaches (1727).
Drummers: hat with lace and cockade (1725), black neckcloth (1733), gloves (1725), cloak with brass hooks (1716), red coat with lace (1729), blue vest (1727), leather breaches (1727).
Dragoons: hat with lace and cockade (1725), black neckcloth (1733), gloves (1725), cloak with brass hooks (1721), red coat with facings of blue plush and shoulder cords (1725), blue cloth vest (1727), leather breaches (1727).

Curiously the facings and vests are described as blue in this report even though the other sources states that the regimental colour was green at this time. It is however common for green colours to become blue when they fade.

Lars-Eric Höglund states that the horses were small in this regiment too and had in 1720 hats with silver lace and red coats with grey collar, facings and lining.

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